Elise Amendola, Associated Press
DAYTON, Ohio — His campaign's survival in question, Herman Cain plowed ahead Wednesday in an effort to move past a woman's allegation that they had a longtime affair. But he acknowledged the toll was rising and said he would decide by next week whether to drop out of the Republican race after talking in person to his wife.
"I am not going to make a decision until after we talk face to face," Cain told reporters Wednesday night in New Hampshire. He said that he had talked to Gloria Cain by phone but that campaigning had prevented him from sitting down with her and their family to discuss the allegations. He said he would do that Friday.
Beyond those comments, there were no signs that the former pizza company executive was calling it quits in his campaign for the GOP nomination. In fact, it was just the opposite: Aides were moving ahead with plans for events in New Hampshire, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia and prepared to launch a fresh round of TV ads in Iowa.
On a one-day bus tour of Ohio, Cain insisted he was seeing "a groundswell of positive support" after the latest allegation threatening his campaign. Still, he acknowledged "we are re-assessing and we are re-evaluating" in light of the woman's account, which followed accusations of sexual harassment by other women in recent weeks.
In an interview with Fox News, Cain said the controversy had taken an "emotional toll" on his wife and that he would exit the race if the price of continuing proved too high.
"I've got to think about my family first, especially my wife," Cain said. "This is why we are reassessing."
At his campaign stops, he renewed what has become a familiar defense: that he is the victim of attacks by liberals and the establishment, who are threatened by his outsider appeal.
"They want you to believe that with another character assassination on me that I will drop out," a defiant Cain told a crowd of about 200 in Dayton. The boisterous crowd greeted him with shouts of "no!" and "boo!"
"One of the reasons they are trying to shoot me down and tear me down is the strength of my message that resonates with the American people," he said.
Cain drew enthusiastic crowds in three appearances in the state. Though there were signs that some in early voting Iowa and New Hampshire were reconsidering their support — and political veterans were beginning to suggest his campaign's days were numbered — some backers here said they were deeply skeptical of the mounting allegations.
"I absolutely trust the character of the man. No man is perfect, but I just don't believe it," said Pauline Clark, 80, from Xenia, Ohio. She urged Cain to "tough it out."
George Phillips, of Beavercreek, said he was sticking with Cain because of his ideas and management experience, saying: "I just like him, and he certainly seems to understand the economy." He added: "It seems funny that every time a candidate rises up, something pops up against him."
And Jim Stansbury, who drove two hours to West Chester from his home in Louisville, Ky., to show his continued support, suggested that Cain's enemies were behind the allegations surfacing and called them "an orchestrated event." Though Stansbury said Cain's base of support remains solid, he allowed that the accusations could make it more difficult to persuade undecided voters to get behind the candidate.
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